In Brief

Joe Root: I want to be England captain for the 2021 Ashes in Australia

After a tough tour and losing the urn, Root is planning for the future

England may have lost the Ashes but Joe Root says he wants to return as captain when his side face Australia down under in 2021. 

The tourists are 3-0 down in the current Ashes series, but go into the fifth and final Test, which starts tonight in Sydney, having drawn in Melbourne to end any chance of a whitewash.

Despite heavy defeats in the first three Tests, a number of off-field issues and his own disappointing performances with the bat, this series has not stopped Root from taking a long-term perspective as England captain.

The 27-year-old says that planning for the future – the 2019 and 2021 Ashes series – “starts now” with the final Test in Sydney.

When asked by The Times if he wants to be skipper when England next tour Australia in 2021, Root said: “Of course I do. It’s been a long trip with stuff that you don’t want to have to deal with on occasions as a captain, but I think I’ve gained a lot from that, and I’m looking forward to the different challenges that will present themselves after this trip.” 

His mood seemed positive, despite England’s performance. “Naturally, over the course of the next four years there are going to be different things and challenges that are going to crop up, and changes within the team, but that’s all part and parcel of an international team and moving forward as a side. I want us to be the best side in the world, and it’s not going to happen overnight.

“It’s really important that next time we come here, we don’t look at it in a daunted way, or feel like there’s a massive gap between the two sides, because if we do things in the right way and if certain things fall into place for us, we’ve got a really good chance.”

Good preparation is crucial, he says. “It’s going to be really important that we look at performing out here well from now and not too far later down the line, two years or a year in advance. The planning for it has to start now.”

The fifth and final Ashes Test starts tonight at 11.30pm (UK time) when England will give a debut to leg-spinner Mason Crane at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The 20-year-old Hampshire star replaces the injured Chris Woakes in an England side that will also include fellow spinner Moeen Ali.

Root told the BBC that spin will be key in Sydney against Steve Smith’s Australian side. “It looks like it will give a lot of spin throughout the game,” he said. “It should give a hint of turn and hopefully Mason comes into the game in both innings.” 

Meanwhile, quick bowler Mitchell Starc returns to the Australia side for the Sydney Test.

Cricket.com.au reports that Jackson Bird will make way after Starc’s recovery from a bruised heel that forced him to miss the fourth Ashes Test match in Melbourne last week. 

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